Red River College is proud to have been named as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2020.
The College joins 74 other Canadian organizations recognized by Mediacorp Canada Inc. for leadership in creating inclusive workplaces for employees from five diverse groups: women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) peoples. Today’s award marks the fifth year RRC has been recognized with this distinction.
“This award is an honour because equity and inclusion are at the heart of our workplace culture,” says Melanie Gudmundson, RRC’s Chief Human Resource Officer.
“Red River College is home to thousands of staff and instructors from all backgrounds and virtually every corner of the globe. Each brings unique perspectives, experiences and connections to our classrooms and work spaces. That diversity is one of our greatest strengths — and it’s why we work so hard to provide a welcoming, safe and equitable work environment for all members of our Red River College family.”
Over the past year, RRC advanced a number of programs and initiatives to encourage diversity and inclusivity at the College, including a Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy that will serve as a roadmap to fostering a safe campus environment by ensuring everyone has the chance to work, learn and access services in an inclusive and welcoming manner. The College hired Priyanji Mediwake, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, to execute this strategy.
To kick off this initiative, a College-wide Diversity Matters poster and communications campaign promoted diversity as one of RRC’s greatest strengths. The campaigns invited staff and students to self-identify as belonging to one or more designated groups: women, racialized persons, Indigenous peoples, persons with a disability, and people of all gender identities. Data from the campaign will be analyzed and used for bench-marking, and will inform upcoming Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans for the College. The College has assembled a Diversity Champions network to help support and lead this work.
“In the coming year as we build and execute these action plans, I foresee a lot of exciting and impactful initiatives coming out of this foundational work,” says Mediwake.
RRC also developed trailblazing initiatives committed to the advancement of Indigenous education, such as Indigenizing curriculum, enhancing staff development and training programs, and offering Indigenous language training (the College launched a new Cree language program in June 2019).
The College appointed Carla Kematch to the role of RRC’s first Manager of Truth and Reconciliation and Community Engagement. Kematch will lead the College in its commitment to Manitoba’s Indigenous Education Blueprint, a pledge to advance Indigenous education in the province — and to make Manitoba a centre of excellence for Indigenous education, research, languages and culture. RRC also expanded Indigenous perspectives into its Human Resource Services by hiring its first Indigenous Relations Consultant, Tamara Cardinal.
At the 19th annual Graduation Pow Wow in 2019, RRC unveiled a new graduation stole to recognize the achievements of the College’s Indigenous students. In September the College also held its first annual Truth and Reconciliation Week, a series of events, activities and guest speakers dedicated to sharing Indigenous culture and history, and starting a conversation around Truth and Reconciliation as well as the 94 Calls to Action.
RRC continued throughout the year to support instructors by providing in-classroom and online workshops on cultural awareness, working on diverse teams, and gender and sexual diversity. The College also pursued a number of other projects, initiatives and events to encourage diversity, equity and inclusivity, including:
- An Accessibility Audit of campus spaces and facilities
- The official opening of the Spectrum, an RRC Students’ Association community space for members of the LGBT2sq+ community and their ally friends
- More than 100 students, staff and College leaders marched in the 2019 Pride Winnipeg parade
- The GETT (Girls Exploring Trades and Technology) Camp Program
- A presentation on mental health by Jordin Tootoo, the NHL’s first Inuk player
- Thrive Week events geared at positive mental health
- Indigenous Winter Games
- Celebration of Culture event
- Turban Pride
- The School of International Education’s 25th anniversary celebration
- Blanket Exercise training aimed to teach staff about Indigenous culture and history
“Red River College is growing,” says Gudmundson. “Each year we open new facilities, launch new programs, and welcome new staff and students from around the world. While we’re proud of our achievements, we know we can always do more to expand and strengthen the services that support inclusiveness. Our commitment to those efforts will continue to grow with us.”